The Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Uchechukwu Ogah, has identified the mining sector as having the potential to transform Nigeria’s economy.
Ogah made this assertion when he paid a courtesy call on the governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki at the Edo State Government House, saying the enormous and abundant mineral resources spread across every part of the country, especially in the state, has the potential to transform the nation’s economy, develop infrastructure and grow the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country.
Speaking on the purpose of the three-day working visit to the state, Ogah said it was critical and strategic in the development of the solid minerals sector, as the state has many untapped minerals which, when properly harnessed, will galvanise it to achieving its “30-year development roadmap” in human capital development and the vision of Edo State outside oil revenues; educational transformation through Edo – BEST and health improvement programme, improved service delivery systems, tax and revenue collection reforms and economic transformation initiatives through modern agriculture and industrialisation of the state.
The minister solicited the support and cooperation of the state government in accelerating the development of the huge commercial deposits of major minerals like limestone, talc, dolomite, gypsum, feldspar, quartz, gold, gemstones, bentonite, bitumen, sharp sand, kaolin, granite etc and other solid mineral resources which abound in the state. He noted that the state could rank second in mining in the country.
Ogah said the collaboration would increase revenue generation, promote sustainable growth of the minerals sector, create employment opportunities for the nation’s teeming unemployed youths, as well as provide economic empowerment for host mining communities, which would lead to the reduction in poverty-level of rural communities.
He noted that the present level of mining operations in the state could be doubled through mutual collaboration and cooperation between the federal, state, local governments and mining investors in the state. He, therefore, urged the governor to ensure that the new partnership between the ministry and state government is sustained to promote the sustainable development of mineral resources in Edo State.
In his remarks, Obaseki, stated that the visit couldn’t have come at a better time as the state is fully committed to diversification. “Edo is a blessed, naturally endowed state and we have taken our destiny in our hands to diversify, focusing on solid minerals.”
The governor assured of the state’s readiness to collaborate on the development of the mineral sector in the state and implored that the state be used as a model for the Federal Government’s collaboration and coordination bid for the optimisation of revenue generation in the sector. “Edo is willing to start afresh to get it right.”
In a related development, Ogah, at a stakeholders meeting held at the Edo State Banquet Hall, commended the operators for investing in the mining industry despite its high risks and creating job opportunities for many Nigerians. He condemned in very strong terms the use of under-aged miners. “Under-aged miners are not allowed. Report under-aged and illegal miners to security agencies.”
A statement by the ministry’s director of press and public relations, signed by Tine-Iulun M.A, said Ogah intimated the operators of the government’s policy focus and enjoined them to make an honest declaration of their monthly mineral production and pay the correct amount of royalties due to the Federal Government. He encouraged operators to keep close contact with the federal mines’ officers in the state and always seek clarification on any matter they need clarification on.
Speaking, the state commissioner for Mining, Oil and Gas, Ethan Uzamere, noted that the development of the mineral sector would bring strong economic benefits to and peaceful coexistence among the people of the state. He disclosed that the state was planning a workshop for miners where all issues regarding challenges would be addressed.
The chairman, Edo State Miners Association of Nigeria, Engr. Mike Okhumode, while enumerating the many challenges faced in carrying out their daily operations, appealed to the Federal Government to extend the same intervention given to the agricultural sector to them.
Also, an operator and coordinator of the state’s chapter of the Women in Mining, Mrs. Uche Idodo, while reiterating the dangers of under-aged miners, called on the Federal Government to intervene in the matter of double taxation.